In this Q&A, Inside Ageing (IA) spoke with Bolton Clarke’s chief people officer, Mel Leahy, about being recognised as an Employer of Choice, and what they do that sets them apart.
IA: Congratulations on being named an Employer of Choice in the Australian Business Awards 2023. Can you tell us more about what this recognition means for Bolton Clarke and its employees?
Mel: We are very excited to win this award, which is the result of the hard work and dedication of leaders across the organisation. We have invested in a lot of leadership development and programs to really improve the employee experience of all of our team members every day.
IA: The award highlights organisations that excel in workforce management. Could you share some of the key policies and practices that contributed to Bolton Clarke receiving this award?
Mel: We have done a lot of work to redesign our values and embed them along with our purpose of helping people live a life of fulfilment. Putting values and purpose into action ensures we live and breathe them every day. It’s the small acts of kindness that can really make a difference. We also invested in our leadership development programs to build capability, resilience and career pathways. Whether an aspiring leader, experienced leader or executive, we implemented a range of programs to build leadership capability at all levels, from frontline mentors and buddies through to senior leaders. We also implemented a National Scholarship Program to support professional learning and development at all levels. To address the challenge of workforce shortages we have implemented a number of new programs to support new pipelines including the Care Friends app which gamifies employee referrals, traineeship and graduate programs and expansion of the Pacific Island Labour Mobility Scheme (PALM).
IA: In the promotions around the Australian Business Awards win, your CEO mentioned you and the leadership team for developing strategies for your workforce. Can you provide some insights into the strategies that have been particularly effective in promoting workplace health and safety and leadership development?
Mel: We have a fabulous team in both safety and well-being and leadership development. Both teams take the time to listen to ensure we understand the day-to-day issues and provide solutions that make a difference. Our safety and wellbeing team has always had an amazing safety record with clear safety management systems, processes and training. The last year we have really focussed on psychological safety and providing training programs to ensure our leaders are aware of signs that people may need support and take action early. We have also provided education on financial well-being given the increasing cost of living. Our leadership programs have targeted building emotional intelligence and resilience. We have introduced the DiSC program, 360 feedback and a coaching platform to help our leaders better understand themselves, and their blind spots and connect with their teams. While we promote our programs through the usual internal channels, word of mouth has contributed to the take up of the programs.
IA: How do your in-house training and education programs contribute to enhancing the quality of care provided by your teams?
Mel: The majority of our learning and education is done internally. With a research institute and a clinical governance team guiding best practices in the sector, we understand the quality of care needed and expected. Internal programs allow us to continually review and connect learning programs and solutions with evidence and clinical data.
IA: In your journey to becoming an Employer of Choice, how important was employee recruitment, engagement, and retention, and what specific initiatives have you undertaken in these areas?
Mel: These are all important areas and we have focussed on a couple of specific initiatives. In the recruitment space, we analysed our job ads and worked with our Brand, Marketing & Comms team and an external agency to better understand what new employees were looking for and ensure we really promoted our benefits. We also implemented the Care Friends App which enabled us to really engage and reward our own people. The PALM scheme allowed us to introduce a new workforce that brought with it the stability of 4-year visas, and traineeship and graduate programs allow for employee development. The constant theme for us is listening to our people and analysing our workforce data to provide initiatives and solutions that give something back in some way. There are lots of programs and initiatives but the best solutions have been the small acts of kindness teams show each other every day, celebrating the wins and letting people know the work they do is appreciated.
IA: Looking to the future, what are Bolton Clarke’s goals and aspirations in continuing to provide exceptional care services and maintaining its status as an Employer of Choice?
Mel: We are really just getting started with some great new initiatives and aspirations over the next 18 months. We have an enhanced R&R program in development, a new employee value proposition to launch later this year and we are expanding our voice of employee program with more regular pulse surveys. We will also continue to expand our leadership programs and are looking at a whole new education strategy to really support and develop our teams and provide career pathways.
IA: If you’re looking to work for an Employer of Choice check out Bolton Clarke’s current vacancies at: boltonclarke.com.au/about-us/careers/